NATIONAL & REGIONAL E-NEWS DECEMBER 2018
FROM THE DESK OF DARRYL STEVENS MNZM
REGIONAL CO-ORDINATOR, PACIFIC
A HISTORY IN COMMON, A FUTURE IN PROGRESS
The Royal Commonwealth Society is a network of individuals and organisations committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens across the world.
IN THIS EDITION
Regional Coordinator’s Message
International Meetings 2018
Introduction to our CEO
Inaugural Royal Vice Patron
150th Anniversary Reception
The Queen’s Commonwealth
Celebrate 150 Years of Collecting
UK Priorities for Chair-in-Office
Cricket & Commonwealth
NZ & Regional News
NZ Special Envoy for
We wish all our members, network supporters and stakeholders a safe and happy Festive Season.
Thank you for your support in 2018.
We look forward to renewing it in 2019.
Regional Coordinator’s Message
I had the privilege of travelling to London in October and joining some 100 delegates at the biennial International Meetings and events marking the 150th anniversary of RCS. Congratulations to the London team on an excellent agenda that allowed us to discuss and deliberate on issues of significance to the branches and the future of our organisation. The presentations on the UK’s Chair-in Office of the Commonwealth by Philip Parham, UK Envoy to the Commonwealth, the environment, Eden Project and Commonwealth Big Lunches were all highly valuable. The High Commissioner’s Banquet at the Guildhall and Her Majesty’s Government reception marking the 150th anniversary, at Lancaster House, provided us with special memories.
Amongst the outcomes of our wide-ranging discussions was the following key announcement:
The current regional coordinators and regional youth coordinators to work with RCS London on designing and framing the “new architecture” of the RCS branch structure and that this would include looking at communication channels, ethos, a possible peer accreditation system, etc.
A subset of regional coordinators and regional youth coordinators to look at the parameters and criteria for hosting the next RCS International Meeting. (This will not include those coordinators who are also bidders!) We will then go back to those who expressed an interest to host and ask them to respond to the criteria against which we need to judge the applications.
A group to work with RCS London on fundraising and financial sustainability (and some of you will know that I have already reached out to you); however, if ANY branch member has contacts or ideas – please contact the Chief Executive via the Regional Coordinator-Pacific
On this last point, you may wish to note that we have a created an enhanced 150 Fellows Scheme to attract support during our 150th anniversary and this scheme will run until the end of June 2019. Should branches find themselves in a position to attract support for the Society by way of this scheme, we will ensure that a percentage of the donations received are directed back to those specific branches to support their local activities.
RCS London will probably look at setting up the first two groups early in 2019.
International Meetings 2018
The Royal Commonwealth Society held its International Meeting for RCS Branches and Associate Fellows in October 2018 in London.
Youth Day The 2018 International Meeting was preceded by a Youth Day, during which young branch members and RCS Associate Fellows were able to network and discuss Commonwealth issues which were important to them. Led by RCS Regional Youth Coordinators, topics of discussion included ‘What does the Commonwealth mean to you?’ and what the young attendees hoped to gain from their involvement with the work of the RCS. Day 1
For the first day of the International Meeting we were kindly hosted by the South African High Commission in London. Delegates from over 35 RCS branches and networks were welcomed by speeches from the High Commissioner for South Africa Her Excellency Ms Nomatemba Olivia Tambo, our new Chief Executive Dr Greg Munro and the new Chair of our Board of Trustees Dr Linda Yueh. Mr Philip Parham CMG, UK Envoy to the Commonwealth, gave an address outlining the UK’s priorities for its time as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office which began with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April this year. Picking up on discussions from the previous day, afternoon sessions focused on youth engagement and participation in the work of the RCS.
High Commissioners’ Banquet, Guildhall
The annual High Commissioners’ Banquet was held in London’s Guildhall in the evening, hosted in partnership with the City of London Corporation. Guests at the Banquet were able to learn about our forest conservation project The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC), with a miniature forest outside the main entrance and placards highlighting individual QCC projects inside the hall where the drinks reception took place.
Day 2 The second day of the International Meeting took place in Methodist Central Hall Westminster, the location of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in 1946. Morning sessions centred on integrating young people into RCS branches, before attendees split into regional breakout groups to discuss issues pertinent to their areas. In the afternoon, delegates heard presentations on localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from Lucy Slack of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and on environmental challenges from Asia Williams of the Youth Climate Change Network, the RCS’ Nathan McKenzie and Jeff Ardron from the Commonwealth Secretariat whose work on the Commonwealth Blue Charter was featured as the cover story of the September issue of Commonwealth Voices magazine. Following the day’s discussions, delegates were able to attend a lecture given by the Commonwealth Secretary-General in Westminster Abbey.
Day 3 For the final day, attendees returned to South Africa House where they heard about the RCS’ contribution to achieving the SDGs and heard a presentation from representatives of the Eden Project about the Commonwealth Big Lunch programme. In the afternoon, delegates offered their perspectives on what they had gained from the week and heard pitches from branches wishing to host the next International Meeting in 2020. In the evening, a reception was hosted at Lancaster House by Her Majesty’s Government to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the RCS, where it was announced that The Duchess of Cornwall is to become the Society’s inaugural Vice-Patron.
Pictured: Attendees at the RCS International Meeting 2018 in South Africa House.
Day trip to Cambridge University Library
Following the International Meeting, some of the branch members and Associate Fellows enjoyed a day trip to Cambridge University Library, home of the RCS archives since 1993. To mark the RCS’
150th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the RCS collection being moved to the University Library, a new digital exhibition was launched showcasing the 100 most visually stunning photographs and pieces of art from the RCS collection. Those present on the trip were able to view some of these remarkable items first-hand and talk to the University Library’s archivists about the collection.
An introduction to the RCS’ new Chief Executive, Dr. Greg Munro
A South-African national with a wealth of experience in the international sphere and local government, Greg joins the RCS at a key time. The UK has just hosted the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meeting and has Chair in Office, HRH The Duke of Sussex has been appointed ambassador for the Commonwealth Youth, and we as a Society celebrate our 150th year. We sat down with Greg to ask him a few questions about what he sees as the challenges and opportunities for The Royal
Commonwealth Society in the future.
Welcome to The Royal Commonwealth Society! Could you give readers a brief description of your background and why you decided to become Chief Executive of the Society? The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and the Society have shared offices for some time as part of the ‘Commonwealth Hub’ and an alignment of the leadership across both organisations (while maintaining two separate organisations and brands) has been a logical next step to this process of greater integration across Commonwealth Organisations. I have in the past only worked in two sectors – Local Government and Charities/Non-governmental organisations. My work across both has been global with the Charity work focussing on civil society capacity-building, gender, inclusivity, human rights and HIV/AIDS.
Could you sum up in a sentence or two your vision for the RCS?
The RCS is here to demonstrate and strengthen the value and values of the Commonwealth at a citizen and community level. We often think of the Commonwealth as a political (and historic) concept but the values of the Commonwealth, if adopted, owned and acted upon by the citizens of the Commonwealth, would result in a better world. The RCS strives to do exactly this and to tackle some of the important areas such as inclusion, creating cohesive and integrated communities and championing women’s rights.
The Charity sector is becoming ever increasingly populated. What would you say was the RCS’ USP?
A key area for the RCS is ensuring that young people across the Commonwealth have opportunities to be leaders – leaders at a community level, leaders in development and political leaders; and to be leaders of today, not just for tomorrow. In all of the thematic areas in which the RCS works, a youth component is what sets the RCS apart.
We had the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the UK earlier this year. As the UK is now Chair in Office for the Commonwealth, what opportunities do you think this brings? There are opportunities for organisations like the RCS, to support the Chair in Office to track delivery on CHOGM agreements, particularly where they involve civil society and communities, and to support the process of moving seamlessly from one CHOGM to the next, with the Rwanda CHOGM in 2020 building upon the outcomes of the 2018 CHOGM. It is imperative that civil society plays a meaningful role in tracking delivery against targets and promises, between the two CHOGM meetings.
What are the challenges for the charity sector going forwards?
Funding is always an issue, but the charity sector also needs to be adaptable to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. Maintaining relevance, fostering innovation and engaging in partnership for delivery are for me, the three main focus areas for the RCS in the future. I look forward to addressing all three in the future and fully aim to ensure that the RCS is maintained as a relevant and progressive charity.
The Duchess of Cornwall becomes the first
Vice-Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society
on their 150th Anniversary
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, hosted a reception at Lancaster House at which Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall was announced as the Society’s inaugural Vice-Patron.
The reception brought together representatives from Her Majesty’s Government, the Commonwealth diplomatic corps, Accredited Commonwealth Organisations and representatives from the Society’s international network of over 60 branches to highlight the ongoing work of the Society across a broad range of issues.
This includes work in the fields of trade, gender equality, LGBT rights, environmental conservation through The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, and youth literacy. The Society also delivers annual pre-eminent Commonwealth events such as the multi-faith Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, which is attended by Her Majesty The Queen and Members of the Royal Family, and the High Commissioners’ Banquet.
This appointment builds on the relationship that The Duchess of Cornwall has had with the Society through her patronage of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition since 2014. The Competition is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing competition, founded in 1883 to promote literacy, self-expression and creativity amongst young people throughout the Commonwealth.
Greg Munro, Chief Executive of The Royal Commonwealth Society, said, ‘Today’s reception is a celebration of all that The Royal Commonwealth Society has achieved over the past 150 years. But more than that, it’s about looking to the future. Throughout its long history, the Society has always been at the forefront of pushing for progressive change in the Commonwealth, and has itself changed a great deal during that time. From its origins as an academic and literary society, the Society has transformed to become a charitable organisation whose work impacts the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Today, we reaffirm our mission to effect change by connecting, convening and equipping people and communities to advance the values of the Commonwealth. To fulfil that mission, we will continue to adapt to a changing world.’
Lord Howell, President of The Royal Commonwealth Society, said, ‘The Royal Commonwealth Society may be 150 years old but we are also 150 years new – building on the past but heading into the future. The modern Commonwealth has become a huge oasis
of democratic values and law in an increasingly dangerous and lawless world. We are proud not merely to be part of it, but to be making an impact on and meeting the needs of this ever more closely connected assembly of nations and peoples in their billions, young and old. This we will continue do with all the strength we can muster.’
The Duchess of Cornwall addresses a reception to mark the 150th anniversary of The Royal Commonwealth Society, where it was announced by the President Lord Howell that Her Royal Highness has agreed to become the Society’s inaugural Vice-Patron.
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During the reception, Her Royal Highness said:
As the first Vice Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society I’m delighted, and honoured, to join you all this evening to celebrate this significant milestone. Over the past 150 years the Royal Commonwealth Society has done so much to promote, both the value, and the values of the modern Commonwealth…you have much of which to be justly proud.
The reception, hosted by Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN, brought together representatives from Her Majesty’s Government and Accredited Commonwealth Organisation as well as representatives from the Society’s international network of over 60 branches.
The Duchess met guests at the reception, many of whom are doing fantastic work across a huge range of issues, from gender and human rights to environmental conservation and literacy.
Her Royal Highness has been involved with the Society for a number of years with The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition; presenting certificates to winners and runners-up at the annual Awards Ceremony, which takes place at Buckingham Palace. It is the world’s oldest schools international writing competition, founded in 1883 to promote literacy, expression and creativity among young people throughout the Commonwealth. This year’s reception for winners will take place on 22nd November.
The Duchess will accompany The Prince of Wales during a visit to The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria from 31st October to 8th November 2018. The visit will celebrate the UK’s dynamic, forward-looking partnerships with these Commonwealth Nations on a range of shared priorities.
During last night’s reception, Ghanaian musicians performed on drums from each of the three countries that Their Royal Highnesses will visit later this month.
Her Royal Highness’s programme will include events to meet young people aspiring to enter The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition and Commonwealth Big Lunch events.
150th Anniversary Reception, Lancaster House
On the evening of Wednesday 17 October 2018, a reception was held at Lancaster House to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Royal Commonwealth Society.
The reception brought together representatives from Her Majesty’s Government, the Commonwealth diplomatic corps, Accredited Commonwealth Organisations and representatives from the RCS’ international network of branches to highlight the Society’s ongoing work.
The event came at the end of the RCS 2018 International Meeting, which saw delegates from over 35 branches and networks from around the Commonwealth come together in London to discuss The Royal Commonwealth Society’s achievements and future work.
Principal guest at the reception was HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who has been involved with the RCS’ flagship youth literacy programme The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition since 2014. The Duchess was welcomed to Lancaster House by a musical performance from One-Drum – a Londonbased collective of traditional African musicians and performers who in March this year delighted guests at the Commonwealth Service held in Westminster Abbey.
The Duchess of Cornwall was introduced to RCS Chief Executive Dr Greg Munro, RCS President Lord Howell and RCS Chair Dr Linda Yueh, before proceeding to the drinks reception where she was able to talk with RCS branch members and Associate Fellows who were in attendance.
The host of the reception, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN, welcomed the assembled guests and gave a short speech, congratulating the RCS on reaching such a significant milestone and expressing admiration for the Society’s work. He commented:
‘Its [the RCS’] longevity is a credit not only to the dedication of the thousands of members, Fellows and supporters who have passed through its door. It is also a testament to their vision and energy, which has enabled the organisation to evolve and adapt to changing times. Your discussions over the last few days demonstrate that the Society remains forward-thinking and purposeful.
A speech by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to launch the Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019, Ghana
5 NOVEMBER 2018
I’m delighted to be here today, on my first visit to your beautiful country, to launch The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition for 2019.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we just have a taste of how brilliant these young writers are. As the proud Vice-Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, I’m delighted to be here today, on my first visit to your beautiful country, to launch The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay
Competition for 2019. I can now reveal that this year’s subject is: A Connected
Commonwealth – a fascinating topic and one which, I hope, will get your brains whirring…
Last year, about twelve thousand young writers sent in their stories, poems and essays – nearly one thousand were from West Africa. So, it’s a huge pleasure to see some of those winners amongst us today.
We all very much hope is that a record number of young people from all the 53 Commonwealth countries will be inspired to put pen to paper and enter next year’s competition. As a passionate believer in the power of the written word I look forward, with huge anticipation, to reading the winning entries and presenting the awards at Buckingham Palace next year.
Best of Ghanaian luck to you all.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition was launched by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the Society’s inaugural Vice-Patron, during a visit to Ghana International School in Accra in the presence of more than one thousand school children.
The theme for 2019 is A Connected Commonwealth. The event was the first launch outside of the UK in many years, in the presence of Dr Greg Munro, RCS Chief Executive; Dr. Mary Ashun, Principal of Ghana International School; Mr Tom Hartley, Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana; HRH The Duchess of Cornwall; Rebecca Akufo-Addo, First Lady of Ghana; Mr. Eric Kutortse, Chairman of First Sky Group and Serene Insurance; Edward Enninful Editor-In-Chief of British Vogue magazine and John Apea, RCS Regional Co-ordinator for Africa (pictured L-R above).
Building on the 2018 theme of Towards a Common Future, this year’s topics call upon young people to consider how they can work to use cultural, technological and environmental connections for positive change across the Commonwealth. It asks young people to consider the potential of the Commonwealth in strengthening the vast and varied links between citizens.
The Competition is an opportunity for all young Commonwealth citizens and residents, regardless of region, education or background, to share ideas, celebrate their story and have their voice heard – all whilst developing key skills. For 2019, we want to hear from more young people across the Commonwealth, all stories and voices are important.
The competition is open to all citizens and residents of the Commonwealth aged 18 and under and runs until 1 June 2019. All entrants receive a Certificate of Participation and one Winner and Runner-up from the Senior and Junior categories will win a trip to London for a week of educational and cultural events.
Born between 2 June 2000 and 1 June 2005 (14-18 years of age)
1. ‘You are the most optimistic, connected generation the world has ever known.’ HRH The Duke of Sussex. How can you use Commonwealth connections for positive change?
2. Connected by the oceans; can we work together to protect the environment?
3. ‘We are all now connected by the Internet’ – Stephen Hawking. What does the future hold for humankind?
4. Family, Community, Nation, Commonwealth. What are the opportunities for shared, sustainable growth?
Born on or after 2 June 2005 (under 14 years of age)
1. My cultural connections.
2. An overseas visitor is coming to your town for the first time. How would you connect with them?
3. A place I feel connected to.
4. The Commonwealth connects people across borders – what can we learn from our neighbours?
Judges described entries to the competition in 2018 as ‘‘fantastically imaginative’, ‘hopeful’, ‘quite exceptional’ and ‘passionate’. We expect a similarly high calibre of writing for 2019.
History of the Essay Competition
The RCS has a rich history of nurturing the creative talents of young people around the Commonwealth. We endeavour to promote literacy, expression and creativity by celebrating excellence and imagination. Run by the RCS since 1883, this international schools’ writing contest is a highly regarded and popular international education project.
In 2015, the contest was renamed ‘The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition’, in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s role as both Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society.
The Society is grateful for the support of Claned, sponsor of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. Claned is a cloud-based learning platform that maximizes learning outcomes by combining artificial intelligence, collaborative learning and world-class pedagogy based in Helsinki, Finland.
Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018 Results
In 2018, 12,000 young people from across the Commonwealth entered the Competition – congratulations to all!
The 2018 theme invited young people to share their ideas on the topic of ‘Towards a Common Future’. Judges were impressed by the diversity and ingenuity of entries and described the pieces as ‘fantastically imaginative’, ‘hopeful’ and ‘passionate’.
We’re delighted to share the great achievements of this year’s entrants. Across every region of the Commonwealth, approximately one third of aspiring young writers received Gold, Silver and Bronze awards from the judges, in recognition of their hard work and talent.
Zahra Hussain, Ng Woon Neng, Janine Shum and Floria Gu – Winners and Runners-up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018.
Senior Winner: Zahra Hussain, Lahore, Pakistan Zahra’s short story ‘Hues of Red’ is a heart-breaking portrayal of child marriage and domestic violence in a traditional South Asian community, yet with an uplifting message of hope for a new generation. She entered the competition as a student of Lahore Grammar School International. On hearing that she had won, Zahra said: “I’m mostly in disbelief, because it’s such a huge honour, but once I get past that I think I’ll be incredibly excited”. She enjoys writing because: “Your writing style can be as diverse as you want it to be – it’s a very unique kind of freedom, and I absolutely adore it”
Senior Runner-up: Ng Woon Neng, Singapore
Ng’s imaginative short story ‘An Odd Company’ personifies the competing concepts of Wealth, Health, Freedom and Happiness, imagining them sparring in an intellectual battle for supremacy reminiscent of the bickering of Ancient Greek gods. A student at Nanyang Girls’ High School, she enjoys: “living in fantasy worlds and dreaming” through reading and creative writing, as well as the study of real-world history. She says: “I have to admit that the real world, for all its flaws and complexities, holds boundless inspiration too.” Ng is surprised but incredibly grateful to have been chosen as the Senior Runner-Up
Junior Winner: Janine Shum, Singapore Janine’s poem ‘Our Common World: Two Voices’ explores educational inequality through the voices of two 12-year-old girls – one from Afghanistan and one from Singapore. It takes inspiration from the life of Malala Yousafzai, opening with her famous quote ‘One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.’ She is a student at National Junior College, Singapore. As well as writing, she loves creating animations and looking after her dog. Her favourite books include ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness and ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowdry, as well as Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series
Floria Gu, Vancouver Canada Floria’s haunting poem ‘Inheritance’ paints a vivid picture of a dystopian future in which unchecked environmental devastation has left a scorched and polluted Earth in its wake. A student of the Transition Program at the University of British Columbia, she entered the competition: “because I wished to practice engaging with global issues, and take advantage of the opportunity to develop my own opinions on the future.” She enjoys writing stories and poems, as well as participating in maths contests. She hopes to pursue a career in science in the future: “so that I can help engineer new technologies and solve the problems people face”.
Celebrating 150 years of collecting
Posted by Benjamin Hodge
12th November 2018
Globalisation has allowed society, on the surface, to be connected like never before. Highspeed internet and social media has meant people can keep in touch and reach out to everincreasing numbers. However, this connectivity, this network, though ever larger and more intertwined is not that deep. That is true, until one looks into the vast amount of items at the fingertips of historians, social scientists, scholars and students at The Royal Commonwealth Society’s (RCS) archives at the University of Cambridge Library. The archive is described as:
’A treasure-trove of information, pictorial and written, print and manuscript, on the Commonwealth and Britain’s former colonial territories, comprising over 300,000 printed items, over 800 archival collections (including manuscript diaries, correspondence, pictures, artefacts, cine films, scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings) and over 120,000 photographs’.
This visit to the RCS archive rounded off a week of meetings and events for the Society’s biennial International Meeting, which brought together the RCS’s youth and branch networks from across the Commonwealth.
It was here that I realised the important difference between being contactable and connected. The hard-working team at the library had put on display a buffet of archived history from around the Commonwealth. Hundreds of old black and white photographs, postcards with scribbled details to loved ones, documents, letters and other historical items that in some small or large part built up to create a visible and physical connection between all people of the Commonwealth.
Today, thousands of pictures and videos are posted online on various social media platforms. Though this allows them to be viewed by millions around the world, something is missing. The ability to pick up and feel the indentation of the handwriting on the back of a photograph, the creased edge on a letter where it was once folded into an envelope by a nurse in Nigeria, made me far more connected physically and emotionally to other citizens of the Commonwealth; past and present. Branch members of the RCS from all over the Commonwealth flicked through the various albums and immediately began discussing how they were connected to the history in front of them. The great wealth of culture stretching far back bound the individuals together. A combination of pride and mutual respect of culture had taken over the room. I was struck by the power these obscure items had. On their own not much can be said however, when collated, archived and displayed, these small items created a family tree of shared culture and community. No individual’s history was more or less important during that day. The mutual respect and tolerance typified in the Commonwealth Charter in theory, was reflected in the reality of the discussions that occurred surrounding the archives.
It would be irresponsible to suggest this history has no other purpose than to be stored and collected. The archives have the capability of showing anyone with Commonwealth connections the value of preservation for generations to come. They add perspective and a sense of belonging at a multitude of levels from individuals and families to regions, nations and the Commonwealth. This is especially true in today’s fast, forever in flux world. It can be quite easy to get lost. However, the shared history and culture found in the RCS archives gives people an anchor and roots them to their communities throughout history, and into the future.
The Commonwealth theme for 2019 is ‘A Connected Commonwealth’. How appropriate this theme is when referring to the archives. They certainly show how we are not separated by our differences but are in fact connected by them.
‘Treasures from the Royal Commonwealth Society’ is a new online exhibition, which offers extraordinary insights into the Commonwealth and Britain’s former colonial territories. The exhibition celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Royal Commonwealth Society (1868 – 2018) and the 25th anniversary of its library and archives becoming part of Cambridge University Library.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Royal Commonwealth Society.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – BENJAMIN HODGE
Benjamin Hodge is a graduate in Global Politics and International Relations. He has a keen interest in history and anthropology, long distance adventure and trekking and is currently working in operations at The Royal Commonwealth Society.
UK’s Priorities for Chair-in-Office of the
At the end of September, the United Kingdom had reported on its five months as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office during the 2018 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
In a meeting held on the fringes of the UNGA, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, announced to Commonwealth foreign ministers in New York that the UK will be contributing £1.8m to the Commonwealth’s electoral observation programme. The April 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) had agreed to the first update to Commonwealth election observation guidelines in 27 years.
Reporting on other developments since the April CHOGM, Mr Hunt said that the UK and Kenya had hosted the Global Disability Summit, that Vanuatu had been the first country in the world to put in place a ban on a range of single-use plastics with other Commonwealth nations making similar announcements this year and he spoke about the Commonwealth SheTrades programme launched in Ghana, Kenya, Bangladesh and Nigeria, with over 1,300 women entrepreneurs now registered.
Commonwealth Foreign Ministers also met on 27 September on the fringes of the UN sessions. On Guyana’s long-running dispute with Venezuela over territory which is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Commonwealth foreign ministers issued a statement in New York expressing ‘their unequivocal and collective support for the maintenance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana and its unimpeded right to the development of the entirety of its territory’.
During her speech to the UN General Assembly on 26 September, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, said: “We reaffirm our shared commitment to work together within a rules based international system to address shared global challenges and foster a fairer, more secure, more sustainable and more prosperous future. This commitment takes account of the special requirements of least developed countries, and of small and otherwise vulnerable economies, and it benefits all our citizens and the wider world. But it is not enough for us merely to make the case for cooperation. We need action, at home and in the community of nations, to show how our ideas and values can deliver practical benefits for all our people in all parts of the world. We must recognise the legitimacy of people’s concerns and act to build a global economy that works for everyone.”
The Commonwealth Envoy represents the UK within the Commonwealth, including on the governing Board of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Envoy works in support of the 3 main pillars of the Commonwealth to implement the principles set out in the Commonwealth Charter. The 3 pillars consist of:
• its Member States (of which there are 53 including the UK)
• the Commonwealth Secretariat
• the many accredited Commonwealth organisations
Philip Parham was appointed the UK government’s Envoy to the Commonwealth on 18 June this year.
Cricket bodies team up with the Commonwealth to advance development goals
14 November 2018
Cricket has the potential to unite communities and help countries towards their development goals, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has said. She was speaking at the ‘Bringing the Commonwealth to the ICC Cricket World Cup’ event – launching a landmark collaboration between the Commonwealth, International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup 2019, and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
High commissioners, renowned sportsmen and community project leaders were among those attending the presentation at the Commonwealth headquarters in London. The initiative aims to shift the focus beyond the playing field to the greater impacts of sport such as accelerating development, promoting peace and improving health and education.
Welcoming the new partnership, the Secretary-General said, “Sport is one of the great shared traditions across Commonwealth member countries. This collaboration will utilise our Commonwealth convening power – which is truly remarkable – to champion and promote cricket and broader sport-based initiatives being delivered by a diverse range of organisations, using the sport as a tool for development and peacebuilding.”
Secretary-General Scotland spoke about the Peace at the Crease initiative she launched earlier this year to enhance the impact of cricket as a tool for development. The programme will create a network of governments, cricketing and sporting bodies and community organisations, and includes training and capacity building to use cricket and sport more generally to advance development goals such as good health and wellbeing, peace and gender equality. Contributing to Peace at the Crease there are Commonwealth Community Cricketing Cups, with special exhibition matches and tournaments to mobilise action on specific development challenges.
The Commonwealth will also support the ICC Young Flagbearers programme, which will recruit young people from diaspora communities of each of the 10 world cup competing nations.
Commenting on the partnership with the Commonwealth, Managing Director of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Steve Elworthy MBE said: “It is an honour to work alongside the Commonwealth ahead of what is a huge year for both the sport and the participating countries. “The event provides a great opportunity for all members of the Commonwealth to be part of the World Cup and show how their communities can be part of cricket in the future,” he added.
Panel discussions at the event focused on the role cricket can play to promote social cohesion and sustainable development in local communities, as part of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Social Legacy programme.
Participants also learnt about related Commonwealth initiatives such as ‘Faith in the Commonwealth’, which was created to improve global citizenship and religious literacy among young people and build stronger social cohesion through greater respect and understanding across faiths and cultures.
Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network
Discriminatory gender norms are a central underpinning factor affecting the lives of young people in the Commonwealth today. Diverse issues from discrimination in employment, to sexual violence, to child marriage are all products of deep-rooted gender inequality. Although young people have often been victims of gender-based discrimination they are also well placed to combat these problems and build equality.
CYGEN continues to build a network of young people from across the Commonwealth who can collaborate and share good practice in their work. Youth voices on gender issues are not represented in formal Commonwealth youth structures and this is a vacuum which urgently needs to be filled in order to create a more robust network of advocates, who can effectively push for policy change at local, national, regional and international levels.
Gender Equality Future Advocates Training 2018
In July 2018 The Royal Commonwealth Society organised a five-day residential training course in
Colombo, Sri Lanka, open to applicants aged between 18-15 from the Commonwealth Asia-Pacific Region. Applicants had to be able to demonstrate prior experience of working on gender equality issues, either in youth, community or workplace settings, through social action projects or studies and be resident in one of the following Commonwealth countries: Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam,
India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The highly participatory and interactive peer learning week seeks to develop critical understanding and action about gender, development and social justice. It strengthens the role of young people in Commonwealth action and decision-making on gender equality issues by giving participants an understanding of the different political structures that have the ability to support gender equality and how to harness them effectively. It also strengthens youth gender networks. Using experiential learning activities, discussion and debate, it enables young advocates to address a range of gender equality issues and provides an opportunity for peer learning and collaboration, and the development of advocacy, social action and leadership skills.
CYGEN and the RCS are committed to ending gender-based discrimination for all. Participants are committed to working for equality for all members of society, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Royal Commonwealth Society is grateful for the support of Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) Australia.
NZ NEWS ROUND-UP
It has been an exceptionally busy first six months in office for Dr Jo Howse and the newly convened RCS Auckland Council which has seen the branch participate in the 101st Commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, organise a highly successful fundraising film evening for Habitat for Humanity NZ and the combined RCS Christmas Luncheon and RCS 150 years Celebration at Selwyn Library at which Darryl Stevens, Regional Coordinator-Pacific was the guest speaker.
RCS Film Fund Raising Evening for Habitat for Humanity NZ
The Habitat for Humanity NZ film fund raising evening was held at the Berkeley Theatre, Mission Bay on Thursday 20 September. It was a night to remember with 79 RCS members and friends of in attendance.
Jo Howse President RCS Auckland welcomed the guests to the film showing. Gaylene King-Turner and Kate Holgate of Habitat NZ gave an informative talk on the work of Habitat NZ that is summarised in their article.
The selected film, Johnny English Strikes Again was rated as a blockbuster with Rowan Atkinson in true form. The theatre rang with peels of laughter as the audience responded to the fast- moving pace and unexpected humour.
The evening completed an RCS target of two film fund raising events for Habitat for Humanity NZ spanning over the last two years.
Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Programme
Kate Holgate, Jo Howse, Chris Barradale, and Gaylene-King Turner
Global Village is Habitat for Humanity’s international volunteer programme that brings people together to build and improve homes, and to contribute to the health and well-being of communities and the people who live in them. Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Volunteers have the opportunity to build alongside community members in a different part of the world, while deepening their understanding of housing and poverty issues and of other cultures. We work with local communities in countries where Habitat is already active, to create strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
A Canterbury tradition – The Recipients evening
On the 9th of November the Canterbury branch of the RCS held its annual reception for Recipients of Honours in the 2018 calendar year, mostly those who are based in or near the Canterbury region.
This long-standing event is a chance for recipients to celebrate their achievements with friends and family in a more informal setting, and to mingle with others from the same or previous years, often those who have previously received honours for work in the same field.
This year we invited 40 recipients, from as far afield as Fox Glacier, Timaru and Kaikoura, with the event being held in The George Hotel, overlooking Hagley Park. Although only 21 actually attended, we had a full house of just over 100 guests.
Once the guests were seated, our President, John Latham, and Vice President, Christine Hainstock, took turns in reading out and presenting the framed citations, with the many achievements being lauded by all, whether they be international, national or local. All recipients took the microphone for a brief word, always humble in acknowledging their associates and those who came before.
Below: Christine reading the citation for the MNZM awarded to Mr Graeme Wallis (right), with John (left) standing by to hand over the framed item.
The new constitution has been formally accepted by the Companies Office. The branch governance structure now comprises of a three- person Board supported by a small Executive Committee. Joining Darryl Stevens on the Board are Marion Cowden and Teresa Thorpe, both of whom are former employees at the Commonwealth Secretariat. The Board will be meeting immediately following Wellington Anniversary weekend to look at the strategic priorities for 2019.
COMMONWEALTH DAY 2019
Commonwealth Day will be observed on the second Monday in March – 11 March 2019
The Prime Minister’s Office is currently looking at options for marking the day and we anticipate changes to the format of previous years. The Visits and Ceremonial Office who have responsibility for the delivery of the official event are engaging with both RCS and CYNZ.
Special Envoy for Commonwealth Trade Integration announced
4 DECEMBER 2018
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced the appointment of diplomat Jeremy Clarke-Watson to the newly created role of Special Envoy for Commonwealth Trade Integration.
“Commonwealth members have increasingly expressed interest in better trade integration, and officials have advised it’s an area worth exploring. For that reason, the government agreed to appoint a special envoy to work in this area,” said Mr Peters.
Mr Clarke-Watson is currently New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and the State of Qatar. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador in Abu Dhabi, Mr Clarke-Watson was the Director of MFAT’s Auckland Office, and has served in Riyadh and Ha Noi. He has also worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and the New Zealand Ministry of Defence.
“This appointment both demonstrates our commitment to the Commonwealth’s prosperity agenda, and New Zealand’s ambition to deepen trade integration in the Commonwealth,” said Mr Peters.
67th Westminster Seminar on Effective Parliaments
New Zealand MPs Kieran McAnulty MP and Lawrence Yule MP join over 70 delegates from across the
Commonwealth in London in late November for the 67th Westminster Seminar on Effective
Parliaments. The renowned seminar is an annual event run by the United Kingdom branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) at the historic Houses of the UK Parliament in Westminster, London.
The week of intensive learning and knowledge-sharing is designed to equip participants with the skills required to effectively scrutinise legislation and government spending and policy, and to make an impact in the debating Chamber. A large focus will be ensuring parliament routinely adapts its procedures to effectively represent a changing society.
RCS New Zealand, PO Box 10-741, Wellington 6143, E: Darryl.firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com